Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


There is recent oil and natural gas development within western North Dakota, which makes it imperative to update outdated and incomplete small mammal records. Small mammals are vital components to many ecosystems, including grasslands. Small mammals contribute to grazing, seed dispersal, and provide food for other animals. I surveyed small mammals in three habitats, grassland, badland, and wet meadow, in the summers of 2014 and 2015 in western North Dakota. In 2014, I surveyed in 8 badland and 10 grassland habitats and in 2015 I surveyed in 1 badland, 13 grassland, and 4 wet meadow habitats, with 1 transect per site. Each transect consisted of museum special snap traps and pitfall arrays with drift fencing. The resulting shape of the array was a ‘Y’. Each array had 10 pitfalls and 90 snap traps. Arrays were operated for 5 consecutive nights over 18 sampling periods during 20 May to 26 July 2014 and 19 May to 25 July 2015; 9 in 2014 and 9 in 2015, for a total of 18,000 trap nights. A total of 708 small mammals were collected in 2014 and 397 small mammals were collected in 2015, with an overall total of 1,105 small mammals for both years. These included 978 rodent and 127 insectivore individuals. There was no difference in species diversity across habitats in 2014 and 2015. There were higher captures of small mammals during the new moon phase. There were no distinct small mammal communities across the 3 habitats. Due to the recent oil boom in western North Dakota, it is critical to assess which small mammals inhabit the area before the effects of the oil boom potentially destroy small mammal habitats.


Dr. Elmer J. Finck

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type



© 2016 Samantha R. Pounds


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